Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day Sixty-four - Seventy-three:

Day Sixty-four – Seventy-three:

This week started with a hike for me. Josh had to work later and I got off early so I went with Brent, Helen and Sarah to Turbid Lake. The trail wasn’t very pretty because we hiked through mostly dead trees. And the lake did not smell good at all. But the purpose of this hike was to look for animal prints at the lake. There is a wolf pack that frequents the area and we found plenty of prints! We brought plaster and made casts of the prints. I didn’t think to take any pictures of the prints though. I did get a few pictures of the mud pots that bubble at the lake’s edge. That stuff is so cool.
Wednesday and Thursday was just working. Friday started our fun stuff. We got an extra day off which was very nice. The plan was to take an overnight trip into the backcountry. We were going to do the hike that Josh did a few years ago. We got our camping permit and we were packed and on the trail. Unfortunately we got a really late start. As we were hiking we had second thoughts about heading into bear country and not reaching our site until after dark. Josh wasn’t feeling the greatest either so we weren’t making good time. The plan changed to just hiking the Ribbon Lake loop. We had hiked it before but it’s a very pretty trail. And there was no mud this time which is nice.
Saturday we slept in late. Hiking with our heavy packs on is much more tiring than it would seem. Josh won a drawing earlier in the week that got him a free lunch at the Lake Hotel and it seemed like a good day to take advantage of that. And we definitely got our fill. It was one of the best meals we’ve had on our trip. A very nice change from the horrible employee food they serve. We need to win more drawings.
After our filling lunch we drove to Mammoth and hiked around the Hoodoos. One this trail there is a section of strange rock formations. It looks like to me that an earthquake shook the mountain and the rocks fell into strange positions. There are a lot of earthquakes in Yellowstone from the volcanic activity underground. The rocks were really neat. We wanted to climb and explore more than we did, but it is much hotter in Mammoth because it is at a lower elevation and we didn’t bring enough water. I started feeling dehydrated. Fortunately we had more water in the car so no wilting occurred.
The next stop was to go swim. We went to a spot where the Boiling River and the Gardiner River converge. Right were they meet the water becomes a nice temp to soak in. The cool water from the Gardiner and the hot water from the Boiling create just the right mix. We didn’t stay very long because it was too crowded. It was hard to get a good spot in the water. It felt good after our long hike, though.
As we drove home we picked up some fellow employees that live at Old Faithful. They were hitch-hiking around the park for the day. The drive took us all the way around the park. But I was able to catch a beautiful view of the moon rising and the colors of the sunset reflecting on Lake Yellowstone. An amazing view. The colors were much more vivid in real life. Pictures can only share so much.
Sunday we spent with our friends Janice and Lee. We went with them to church at the campground where they work. After that we went to the Old Faithful area to hike to Lone Star Geyser. This time we were able to catch it going off. The eruption lasts about twenty minutes and we caught the last half of it. That much power coming from under the ground where we walk is a little unnerving. Its pretty neat to watch it, though. There were a ton of wildflowers on this trail too. I just love seeing the bright colors.
We went to the Old Faithful geyser basin after that and walked around. There were several geysers and pools that Josh and I had not seen. One was Morning Glory Pool. It was very beautiful. Unfortunately the colors of the pool are fading from what they used to be. Stupid people throw coins and trash into the pools and it clogs the flow of the spring. When the flow stops it lowers the temperature of the pool allowing different types of bacteria to grow. The bacteria create the brilliant colors that surround the pool. The middle used to be much bluer and the orange was a smaller ring.
The next day we didn’t do much. Tuesday was employee appreciation day. They served us a steak dinner. That was a nice treat. Later was Wolf Night. Everyone dressed up and partied late. It was tons of fun. I don’t have any pictures of us because I forgot my camera. I’ll get some from some friends eventually.
Now I’ve realized that we only have two and a half weeks left here. It will be nice to go home, but there are still some hikes we want to do. The rest of this week may be a little busier. Yay for hiking!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day Fifty-eight - Sixty-three

Day Fifty-eight – Sixty-three:

Last Wednesday we went to Old Faithful to watch the annual Employee Talent Show. It was an interesting variety of performances. It felt like summer camp. Good times.

Thursday was uneventful. Josh worked during the day and I worked in the evening so we couldn’t do anything together. Friday was the same schedule but I ended up going by myself to Canyon to get more pictures and video of Upper and Lower Falls.

I took a trail that goes along the south rim of the canyon. I also took a side trail down a steep set of stairs (you should have seen how tight I was grasping the handrail!) to get a close view of Lower Falls. It was worth the climb. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone truly is an amazing sight. The Lower Falls is spectacular. My pictures don’t fully show the power of the falls. The thundering sound when I was up close was loud. It was fantastic.

Saturday we started early with some older friends on a hike to Riddle Lake. It was a pretty hike. Each hike we take has a few new characteristics. We saw some pretty wildflowers and the ladies we were with knew some of the names of them so we learned a little. The lake was very beautiful. When we first got to it, it was smooth and mirror-like. I got good pictures of the reflections of the mountains behind the lake.

Later after that hike we went to swim in Firehole River. I didn’t get any pictures of that, but it was tons of fun! We climbed to a deep rapid and were able to jump in and ride the current down the river. It was a little scary jumping in and being swept away, but the thrill was awesome.

We also went on the way home to see the Grand Prismatic Spring. We tried to view it earlier in the summer, but the steam from the hot water was so thick that we couldn’t see anything. This time we climbed a little ways up a hill to get a higher view. The day was nice and warm so the steam wasn’t nearly as thick. This is the largest hot spring of its kind in the world. The colors are just amazing. I love the abundance of colorful sights here in Yellowstone.

Sunday we hiked up Observation Peak. The mountain climbs are difficult. A lot of fun, but we are slow going up hill. On our way there were tons of wildflowers. There is a particular small blue flower that I really love. My picture doesn’t show how bright the actual flower is, but it almost glows the color is so brilliant.

The view from the top of the peak was marvelous. We could see all the way to the Yellowstone Canyon. We saw several lakes including Ice Lake which we hiked too earlier in the season. And also on our way down we saw the smoke from a forest fire billowing up into the air. Its still blowing this direction today and the air smells smoky.

Now we are back to another week. We’ve got a softball game tonight. Hopefully the other team will show up so we can play! The rest of the summer is going to fly by. We have many more hikes planned. I love hiking! It will be nice when we are heading back home. I miss my people!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day Fifty - Fifty-seven

Day Fifty – Fifty-seven:

Well I have the internet but I still don’t update much. Sorry. I suppose the reason would be that during the week we aren’t doing too much, but on the weekends we are so busy that I don’t have time. I will use that as an explanation.

So this weekend, Friday we went to the Le Hardy rapids to see if there were any trout jumping. We saw a few of them along the sides, and only one of them jumped. I think we are a little early for much action. There was a huge pelican hanging out on a rock in the middle of the rapids. He was really cool. I was amazed at how large he was. We watched him for a while hoping to see him catch a fish, but nothing happened. We plan to go there again soon to see if there is any action and I’ll make sure and bring my camera.

After that we went to hang out at Lake Hotel with some friends. Every evening there is live music, piano or a string quartet. We heard the quartet. They are very talented. It was a nice change of pace.

Saturday we drove into Cody again. This time we took three Asian girls with us. One was from China and two were from Taiwan. They are working here for the summer and can’t get drive anywhere. Josh works with one of the girls and she brought some friends. They were so excited to see another place. We walked up and down the main strip of shops and ate some lunch there. We also went to Wal-Mart. It was great talking to them and learning about there culture and why they are traveling and what their plans are. Its amazing to me how different and yet how similar people are.

Sunday we went to church in the Lake Hotel. There is a Christian Ministry here that is comprised of college and seminary students. Every Sunday they have multiple services around the park for employees and visitors. It was refreshing to fellowship and worship with others in such a beautiful place. We haven’t been able to make a service yet and I really enjoyed it.

After church we went to hang out with our friends Janice and Lee. They cooked a waffle brunch for us and we played games and hung out. It was a lot of fun. We have a lot of common interests as them and since they are older and wiser they are sharing some of their knowledge with us. We plan to do some short hikes with them also.

Josh had to work Monday, but I had the day off, so I went with some other friends on a long hike. It is probably my favorite hike so far. I am definitely sunburned and scraped up pretty bad, but it was all worth it.

This is where we stopped for lunch.

We started in Pelican Valley and then went part way up the Astringent Creek Trail. After a few miles the creek veers off and we went off trail two miles and followed it up to a hidden thermal area. From the ridge of a steaming hill we could view a yellow lake that is not on any of the maps. My friend Brent found it on Google Earth and then found it off the trail last year. He and his wife Helen were showing us (me and another girl, Amy) all the interesting thermal vents and mud pots back on this trail. Almost the whole creek that we followed was filled with thermal hot waters and bright colored bacteria and algae. It was incredible. What made it really cool was that very few people, if any, ever see that area.

Here is a waterfall right next to a steam vent. The steam was continually gushing from the hole. The water was running from thermal springs further up stream.

Here is one of many bison skulls we found near the thermal area.

We got to cross a creek in our bare feet. It was cold but felt really nice, especially on our way back. I fell into a muddy hole once. We crossed some grassy areas that had muddy ground hidden beneath them. I tried to walk on the tufts of grass, but misjudged one of them and sunk in above my ankle. Fortunately I didn’t loose my shoe! It is all part of the adventure.

We saw a lot of wildlife on this trail as well. Many bison (a few blocked the trail along the way!), three garden snakes, a toad, tadpoles, all kinds of birds and we even saw four bears. The first one we spotted from a distance in the first valley we crossed. He was walking around a sage bush patch. We lost sight of him for a little bit, but the trail took us closer and the wind blew our scent in his direction. He poked his head up and looked right at us. (he was still a good 100 yards away) Then he stood up, saw that he was out numbered and ran toward the woods. He moved very quickly and I’m glad he went the other direction. He was very beautiful though. And so cute when he stuck his head up with his ears sticking out. The other bears we saw were farther in on the trail. Brent spotted them first and waved us over. Around the bend of hill were a mother and two cubs. I wasn’t able to get a good sight of them because they were walking away in the deep grass when I got around the hill. But they were there on our hike!

We found two sets of Elk antlers. They are pretty heavy!

The views were just amazing. The wind blew the grass in waves in the valleys. The snow covered mountains were on the edges all around us. The streams of water with little waterfalls made music in the air along with the wind in the trees. There were wildflowers everywhere. All colors and varieties. Near the thermal areas there were a lot of ferns. I haven’t seen ferns in any of the other areas I’ve hiked. Even though I said in my last post that I like the Tetons better, the beauty of this hike is unlike any I’ve seen here in Yellowstone. It was so much more secluded and it just soothes my soul to be out there hiking.

I was sad Josh couldn’t go on this hike, because for most of it we were on part of the 28 mile hike he did three years ago. To be there with him would have been really great. But we may hike the other part of it later on this season. We still have a little time left.

I’ve hiked over sixty miles now and I’m still counting toward 100. I love the long hikes that take us away from people and into the seldom explored areas of God’s creation. Josh is enjoying the beauty of the hikes as well, although I usually have to slow him down so I can look at flowers and birds and stuff. Its so wonderful!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day Forty-three - Forty-nine

Day Forty-three – Forty-nine:
Josh’s birthday was this week! We celebrated by going to eat a good meal at Canyon. And also to exchange the gift I bought him. It’s hard to buy clothes for gifts! Thank you to our friends at Baptist! Josh and I really enjoyed the box of goodies. Y’all are awesome! Josh says thanks for the cards and brownies and everything.
This weekend we had a great adventure. Friday evening, after work we drove down to Moose Falls. The falls have a thermal influence which makes the water somewhat warm. We could swim behind the falls and watch the water. It was really fun. The current isn’t too strong either so we could swim around the base.
Saturday morning we drove down to Grand Teton. We planned a long backpacking hike, but found out that half the trail is covered in snow. So we made a slight change and camped at Leigh Lake. There were a few backcountry sites available and it was perfect. It was only two miles to our site which was nice. So we hiked in and set up. Then we took a hike around the lake to see the view of the mountains. It was amazing. The sun was shining just right and the water was so clear and sparkly. Josh did a little texting on the trail too. Surprisingly we got phone service all throughout the park. This is the end of our hike, we arrived at Bearpaw Lake.
The Tetons are my favorite. The forest is more diverse and the mountains are much bigger and closer. The lakes are clearer and prettier. I do love the unique features of Yellowstone, but the Tetons are better in my book.
Camping was fun. We got a little cold at night, it got a little below forty. And the mosquitoes feasted on our legs and arms. But the view and the solitude were fantastic. I woke up pretty early and tried to watch the sunset. I captured some of the early morning colors on the lake. I got too cold though and climbed back in the tent before the sun actually came up. I wasn’t sure how long it would take and I was freezing.
After the sun was up and we got up and moving we did some more hiking. We were pretty tired from the day before and so we went for a short hike. We drove to Jenny Lake which is just south of Leigh Lake and hiked part way around it. The hike goes to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. The falls were beautiful. At the point we could see an amazing view of Jenny Lake. We met a chipmunk too that walked right up to us as we were resting on a rock. He was pretty cool.
Once we got down from Inspiration Point we decided to take the ferry across the lake to get back. It was a nice fun ride. We got a discount too which was sweet. It’s a good thing we took the ferry because we were both so tired and I started to feel really bad. I caught a slight cold from camping in the cool air and from the dust, pollen, campfire and lack of sleep. I am recovering quickly though. I mostly needed some sleep. I dozed most of the way home.
Before we headed home though, we went to Teton Village, a little resort town in the mountains. Its mostly a ski resort, but it was packed on the Fourth of July. We got a good meal which was nicely discounted because the kitchen lost our ticket and we had to wait over an hour for our food. All part of the adventure!
Once we got home I took a short nap. I was beat. It didn’t seem like we did all that much, but after I calculated the miles we hiked it was almost 14 miles. I don’t believe we have done that at one time yet. Its really fun, but it takes some time to get used to.
Here at the Lake Area there was a parade for the Forth. It was funny. There were about ten cars, decorated for the celebration. They threw candy and beads. It was a fun little deal. We didn’t get to see any fireworks. I suppose that is looked down upon in a dry forest area.
We aren’t sure what is planned next. We have a league softball game this week which I will actually be able to play in. I’ve had to work in the evening during all our other games. It should be a good time. Until next time! Later!